Good Italian in LA ? La Bottega Marino
Being Italian is seemingly more acceptable the last few years. Now, it’s almost “hip”.
Thanx to the Sopranos, and a never ending string of great mob movies, it seems like being Italian is alot cooler than it used to be.
Maybe living in California for the past 11 years has made me a feel little less like everyone else. After all, when you grow up on Long Island, everyone is either Italian, Jewish or Irish. That’s the way it was when I was there anyway.
In LA, there’s alot less of us, so when you run into a NY Paisan it’s a pleasant surprise. Really, at the end of the day, I’m just American, 2nd generation, it’s not like I speak Italian, have ever been to Italy, or even know the first thing about being an Italy Italian, just a NY one.
Either way, I grew up with the culture….the food, the big ass family, the food, the big ass family gatherings, the food, the even bigger ass weddings every other month, the food…you get the picture. So being in LA, good Italian food is hard to find. There’s alot of bad and mediocre stuff, but few good places to ind the real deal.
Back in my early days living in Hollywood, I worked as a delivery guy at La Bottega Marino in West Hollywood. It was a part time gig, and left me time for my “real job” , my band. Back in 96′ you could work a part time job and still make your rent in LA. LA was cheap then, a place where you could “get by” while pursuing your dream, whatever that was.
They’ve since moved from WEHO to West LA, as well as having a place on Melrose in Hollywood. It’s been about 8 years since I’ve been in La Bottega, but when we went in today , I knew just what to order.
First things first – a nice Cafe Americano – strong like bull!
Started things off with a much needed caffeine fix. This Cafe’ Americano packed some serious punch. Strong like Bull, and really good. Not long after they brought us out some bruschetta and bread. Anyone who knows me, knows my pet peeve with 95% of Itaian restaurants is the over abundance of Garlic. This, to me is the first sign that a restaurant doesn’t really do Italian food right. I know garlic is a huge favorite of people, and they seem to can’t get enough. Not me. To me, garlic is to add flavor to a dish, not to BECOME the flavor of a dish.
Good Bruschetta, or “cecca” as some folks call it
So, this bruschetta, to ME, was done right. Good roma tomatoes, the right texure, flavorful, and the right amount of garlic. A tad more basil would’ve been ok too, but this stuff tasted great. Pile some up on a slice of bread (NOT sourdough) and go for it.
So, I ordered what I used to get when I worked at La Bottega, back in the day. The Vegetarian Sandwich, which, on the menu is, “Fresh Moots” (uh, fresh mozzarella cheese) roasted peps (roasted peppers) and balsamic vinegar eggplant, only, I’m not a big eggplant guy, so I subbed it with tomatoes. when I worked there, I worked late mornings, and the bread was usually only out of the oven for an hour or 2, sometimes I would go to their pizza place across the street, and pick up some fresh loaves, and bring them back. It was like eating fresh pizza crust….amazing.
Vegetariano Panini – with my own twist. Fresh Mozzerella, Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes
Being that we were here in the late afternoon, the bread was cooled off, and soft, as opposed to crusty, like back in the day, but, you can’t always expect it to be fresh out da oven. Still the sandwich was great, piled with the fresh mozzerella, their own roasted peppers (once again, garlic’ed correctly) and tomatoes. Good stuff.
Gnocchi with really tasty tomato basil sauce. It’s hard to find a good sauce in LA
We also ordered the gnocchi with tomato basil sauce. I have to say, the gnocchi was a little chewier than I’m used to, but the sauce made up for it. A nice tomato basil sauce, very flavorful, one again, the right amount of garlic,as not to kill the flavor of the tomatoes, not over cooked, very fresh tasting. They threw a little mozzerella on top. Nicccce !
LA Bottega is set up really more like a deli, than a restaurant, with all their good stuff in deli cases at the counter, so you can buy the fresh mozzerella and roasted peppers by the pound. They also have tiramisu,cannoli’s, sfogliatelle and other pastries, as well as gelato and espresso drinks.
Hey, they’re a restuarant too, so if you’re in the mood for a nice “sit down”, you can get a great meal there too. Owner Salvatore is a nice guy too. He’s from Italy, by the way, Not NY.
La Bottega Marino
11363 Santa monica Blvd
West Los Angeles, CA 90025
203 N Larchmont Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90004
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